October 27, 2012; Stanford, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach (right) talks to quarterback Jeff Tuel (10) during the second quarter against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State Football: Passing Production by the Numbers

This is the beginning of an informal series I’ll be writing over the next week or two, examining the Cougar offense and where it can (must) improve between 2012 and 2013. My goal is to uncover for you the issues that plagued WSU and the changes that the coaching staff will be implementing (theoretically by educated guess) to make this thing go. Why were we 3-9 last season with Mike Leach at the helm? Let’s get into that.

Offensively Washington State really did one thing well last season, but they didn’t even do it all that well; Pass the ball. It was pretty obvious when Mike Leach came aboard that WSU was going to put the rock in the air and I think everybody anticipated an NCAA top 10 passing game, the Cougars were 9th in yards per game (330.4). Still not even that was as good as it sounds and we’re going to examine some numbers to figure out why.

The Cougars were one of only 2 teams to pass the ball more than 600 times (624) in 2012. Marshall came in 2nd with 607 attempts. It stands to reason that the Cougars should have squashed every other team Here’s where it gets messy from a Cougar standpoint:

  • Of the top 10 pass offenses, WSU completed the 6th most pass attempts (363) good for a 58.2 completion rate.
  • Every other top 10 pass offense completed a higher percentage and only 3 in the top 32 completed an equal or worse pct.
  • Every other top 10 pass offense threw for more yards than WSU (3965) and more yards per attempt (6.4).
  • Only 2 teams in the top 20 threw for less touchdowns than WSU (23), Marshall threw 39 of them.

As you can see, it wasn’t all peaches and cream for the Cougs pass offense in 2012. The numbers say 9th overall in yards per game, but there were easily 50-75 more yards per game or more to be had, if the execution would have been as efficient as other top passing teams. Only 35 yards per game separated 1 from 9, so you can imagine how frustrated Mike Leach is when he sees the numbers left on the field. Several other teams did more with less (in terms of attempts).

Simply put, the Cougars must get better on a fundamental level because these numbers explain a lot about the 3-9 record that they put together in 2012.

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